Zebrafish as an emerging model for studying complex brain disorders

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Feb;35(2):63-75. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2013.12.002. Epub 2014 Jan 9.


The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is rapidly becoming a popular model organism in pharmacogenetics and neuropharmacology. Both larval and adult zebrafish are currently used to increase our understanding of brain function, dysfunction, and their genetic and pharmacological modulation. Here we review the developing utility of zebrafish in the analysis of complex brain disorders (including, e.g., depression, autism, psychoses, drug abuse, and cognitive deficits), also covering zebrafish applications towards the goal of modeling major human neuropsychiatric and drug-induced syndromes. We argue that zebrafish models of complex brain disorders and drug-induced conditions are a rapidly emerging critical field in translational neuroscience and pharmacology research.

Keywords: behavioral tests; brain disorders; translational research; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Zebrafish